Retired journalist and radio broadcaster Jackson offers a debut mystery series-starter set in the music business, starring a middle-aged woman who rises to fame as a manager in Nashville’s Music Row.
Life isn’t treating Sarah Ann Boswell well lately. After her 26-year marriage to a high-powered attorney ends, she loses her job as vice president of community outreach for a charitable foundation, and things look bleak for her. In a fateful moment, she tries to end it all by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Lucky for Sarah Ann, she’s rushed to the hospital before reaching the point of no return. With her ever faithful prayer group and her two adult children supporting her, Sarah Ann manages to face her situation, and she begins to recover. Jill Edgerton, the founder of a Nashville music-management firm, happens to be recuperating in the next bed. She offers Sarah Ann her friendship and a job—two things that Sarah Ann can’t pass up. Shortly after hitching her wagon to Jill’s, she meets musician Jared Parson, who “has the looks of a young Vince Gill, hips like Elvis, and a voice to challenge Blake Shelton.” The women immediately sign him as a client and later produce his CD, which hits the top of the charts. But something isn’t quite right about the new country star. And when someone turns up dead, Sarah Ann knows something is very, very wrong. Jackson’s writing wraps the reader in Southern charm, channeling Southern Living and offering recipes reminiscent of those in Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible. When Sarah Ann isn’t meeting with her prayer group—which is apparently designed more for venting than praying—she’s attending the Grand Ole Opry or eating barbecued ribs. But although Jackson’s story is engaging throughout, its main plotline is delayed; although a minor mystery is alluded to in Chapter 8, the real one doesn’t get going until Chapter 26. Characters spend the remaining 11 chapters figuring out whodunit and encountering some overly helpful coincidences (including one involving a very clear fingerprint) and unoriginal motives (money and sex). But although the mystery isn’t challenging, it remains entertaining to the end.
An often engaging inspirational tale.